Art History Graduate Courses

M.A. students may take one graduate course in another department as a part of their degree. You need to consult with that professor and department to get permission to take the course and follow the registration procedure for that course/department.

Courses at the 800 and 900 levels (purely graduate courses) are available to M.A. and Ph.D. students. You can check times for these courses on SOLUS. To register, please contact the Art History program assistant at (art.history@queensu.ca). Courses at the 400/800 level are open only to 4th-year undergraduate students and M.A. students (not to Ph.D. students). There are only four spaces for graduate students in each of these courses, which is generally sufficient, but we will consult with the instructor if necessary. If you wish to do an internship at the Agnes, you should consult with the relevant curator as soon as possible (the deadline for applying for Winter term is in October).Art History M.A. and Ph.D. students may also take the Art Conservation courses listed below, with permission of the instructor. These are Art History & Art Conservation courses and therefore do not count as a course from another department.

View our Art History Graduate Courses in the Academic Calendar.

Fall Term: Graduate Seminars 2022/2023

In this course graduate students will explore various methods for an expanded art history concerned not only with art works, but also with objects of visual and material culture, institutional practices of collecting and display, and the writing of art history itself. Methods and theories to be explored include iconography, formalism, biography, semiotics, post-structuralism, Marxism, social history of art, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, postcolonial and decolonial theory. Students will improve their ability to read closely and critically and they will learn various ways to apply different methods and theories to art historical questions and objects. By the end of the course, they will have improved their ability to determine which methods are most suited to the research questions and objects to which they are drawn. Assessments will be varied and and many will have practical components, encouraging students to explore different ways of putting theory into expanded art historical practice.

A detailed list of readings and requirements will be available during the first class. Each class will be organized around seminar discussions, group work, and direct engagement with art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Students will be responsible for presenting readings, art works, and their ideas to the class in structured and engaging ways, facilitated and modelled by the instructor. Regular and attentive attendance is mandatory.

Instructor: A. Morehead

Instructor: U. D'Elia

Instructor: M. Reeve (remote)

Given the colonial roots of western museums, the historical relationship between museums and Indigenous communities has been fraught with conflict, disjuncture, and political interventions. Over the past several decades, new exhibitions and curatorial practices have attempted to “decolonize” museums. This has fostered new understandings of collections, insights into the core function of contemporary curatorial work, innovative models of partnerships and collaboration, and novel collections and research policies. These encounters have called into question the role of museums, and the disciplinary formations that are associated with them. Is it possible to “decolonize” the western museum or art gallery? To what degree is power shifted or shared in these new arrangements? How do cultural institutions navigate an ethical minefield to find workable pathways to reconciliation? Drawing upon Indigenous and non- Indigenous writers, this course explores different case- studies, theories, and histories to track and critically appraise the evolving relationship between Museums and Indigenous peoples with a specific reference to North America in order to contextualize and understand the emerging issues in contemporary curatorial and museum practice. Topics covered include representation, repatriation, sacred materials, and the management of tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

Instructor: N. Vorano

ARTH 876: Studies in Curatorial Practice and Cultural Policy I: Decolonizing the Museum - Cultural Heritage and First Peoples
Image: James Luna, The Artifact Piece, 1987. Estate of James Luna and Garth Greenan Gallery, NY.

Winter Term: Graduate Seminars 2022/2023

Instructor: J. Bevilacqua

This research-led course will examine the legacies of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement around the world. We will look at a variety of craft revival movements and a range of media and crafts, but we will focus on figures who most directly responded to Morris himself. Why were so many people around the world inspired by Morris? What did they embrace and what did they critique? How did the principles of Arts and Crafts change over time? We will look at cases from Japan, America, Ireland, Russia, Indigenous North America, South Asia, Iran, Germany, Central Europe, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand. We will begin by grounding ourselves in Morris’s own work and writings, and then consider how his ideas were taken up in different places and in the contexts of modernism, imperialism, settler colonialism, orientalism, industrialization, the emancipation of the serfs, post-colonialism, nationalism, and gender. Accordingly, this course is focused on historiographical as much as historical questions. It will be structured around detailed readings and discussion of primary texts and the examination of objects, interiors, and architecture. Our primary methodological question will be that of the relationship between texts and objects, and, more specifically, the translation, appropriation, and reinterpretation of Arts and Crafts ideals in global and transnational contexts. 

Instructor: A. Behan

Early Netherlandish paintings, as material objects, are complex layered structures that were produced with a broad range of materials in distinct stages. Methods of technical examination, such as X-radiography and infrared reflectography, provide complementary information about these objects and their production. This course surveys how Netherlandish paintings were produced, and why this information can be of critical importance for art historians. Topics will include: the division of labour within a workshop, how to ‘read’ X-radiographs and infrared reflectograms, and how to interpret the results of dendrochronological analyses. The goal of the course is to provide the necessary toolset to critically read publications in the fast-emerging field of Technical Art History, with a special focus on the techniques applied by Hieronymus Bosch and his workshop. Although the examples used in this course will be limited to Netherlandish painting, many of these skills and concepts are applicable to other fields within the history of art.  

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

A detailed list of readings and requirements will be available during the first class. The course will be part lecture, part presentation, and part discussion. Attendance is mandatory. Evaluation will consist of three in-class presentations and written assignments, all on assigned topics.

Download the ARTH 402/807 course description (618KB)

Instructor: R. Spronk

Instructor: J. Kennedy

Fall Term: Graduate Seminars 2021/2022

This graduate seminar examines feminist theory and activism in the visual arts from the 1960s to the present with a special focus on transnational networks of influence and exchange. How do artists in various parts of the world understand and express their relationships to gender and sexual politics as they intersect with race, class, locality, culture, religion, tradition, and other differences? How have the practices of feminist artists been shaped by colonialism, globalization, war, forced and voluntary migration, technology, and the many other processes through which people, ideas, and objects move around the world? How and why have artists organized across material and ideological borders to form transnational collaborations and coalitions? These and other questions will be considered through close analysis of artworks, exhibitions, literature, and scholarly texts.  

A detailed list of readings and requirements will be available at the first class. In addition to participating in weekly seminars, students will develop individual research or research-creation projects which will be presented in a class colloquium at the end of the semester.  

Instructor: J. Kennedy

In this course graduate students will explore various methods for an expanded art history concerned not only with art works, but also with objects of visual and material culture, institutional practices of collecting and display, and the writing of art history itself. Methods and theories to be explored include iconography, formalism, biography, semiotics, post-structuralism, Marxism, social history of art, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, postcolonial and decolonial theory. Students will improve their ability to read closely and critically and they will learn various ways to apply different methods and theories to art historical questions and objects. By the end of the course, they will have improved their ability to determine which methods are most suited to the research questions and objects to which they are drawn. Assessments will be varied and and many will have practical components, encouraging students to explore different ways of putting theory into expanded art historical practice.

A detailed list of readings and requirements will be available during the first class. Each class will be organized around seminar discussions, group work, and direct engagement with art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Students will be responsible for presenting readings, art works, and their ideas to the class in structured and engaging ways, facilitated and modelled by the instructor. Regular and attentive attendance is mandatory.

Instructor: A. Morehead

In the Italian Renaissance, people kissed and embraced crucifixes, dressed statues of the Virgin Mary in real clothing and jewelry, spoke to sculptures, asked sculptures for help, paraded them through the streets in times of crisis, and gave them gifts, including sculpted wax body parts. Miracles tell of sculptures coming to life to aid or punish a devotee or malefactor. How are these devotional practices different from the pagan idolatry so vigorously condemned in the Bible and by early Christian and Medieval theologians?  When does art become an idol? We will explore changing attitudes towards idolatry and therefore shifting definitions of how people should interact with art. We will focus on the life-sized painted sculptures created in the Italian Renaissance, which are a limit case in their breathtaking naturalism. Is this naturalism dangerous, and, if so, what kind of illicit behavior could it engender? Is art deception, distraction, or, worse, a kind of necromancy that illicitly seeks to bring dead matter to life? We will read defenders and critics of devotional art, in order to understand this profound crisis about the nature and morality of art, a crisis that predated and in some senses precipitated the iconoclastic controversies of the Protestant Reformation.

Integral to this course will be the collaborative creation of an online virtual exhibition, which will be researched, written, and curated by the students and published at the end of the course.

Details have not been finalized yet, but the course requirements will include participating in the creation of the online exhibition, as well as a more traditional research paper.

Instructor: D'Elia

Early Netherlandish paintings, as material objects, are complex layered structures that were produced with a broad range of materials in distinct stages. Methods of technical examination, such as X-radiography and infrared reflectography, provide complementary information about these objects and their production. This course surveys how Netherlandish paintings were produced, and why this information can be of critical importance for art historians. Topics will include: the division of labour within a workshop, how to ‘read’ X-radiographs and infrared reflectograms, and how to interpret the results of dendrochronological analyses. The goal of the course is to provide the necessary toolset to critically read publications in the fast-emerging field of Technical Art History, with a special focus on the techniques applied by Hieronymus Bosch and his workshop. Although the examples used in this course will be limited to Netherlandish painting, many of these skills and concepts are applicable to other fields within the history of art. 

A detailed list of readings and requirements will be available during the first class. The course will be part lecture, part presentation, and part discussion. Attendance is mandatory. Evaluation will consist of two in-class presentations and written assignments, all on assigned topics.

Instructor: R. Spronk (Fall 2021)

Fall, winter, or summer. Various instructors.

This course is intended to provide graduate students an opportunity to undertake a directed research project in an art gallery, museum, or archive. The research will focus on some aspect of the chosen institution's collection and will be supervised by a specialist in that area who works at the institution or co-supervised by such a specialist and a faculty member. Fall, winter, or summer.

Individual directed reading course under the guidance of a faculty member in an area of the instructor's expertise. Fall or Winter. Offered by permission of instructor only. Students interested in pursuing a Directed Reading should contact the faculty member they would like to work with to discuss a possible topic and work plan.

Winter Term: Graduate Seminars 2021/2022

Cultural heritage preservation encompasses the damage, protection, theft and restitution of artistic works and other material objects. There is already evidence of heritage protection in Ancient Rome, but in the Western world, national movements took root in the 19th century, and only in the 20th century was international concern precipitated by the cultural casualties of WWI and WWII. Still, how to preserve and protect heritage remains a critical problem. Our seminar will focus on aspects of this subject that have created controversy in recent years. The looting of cultural heritage has an ancient history but continues to be a daunting and unresolved problem, including the theft and marketing of ethnographic materials and human remains. In the wake of the Holocaust, the ominous relationship among looting, heritage destruction and genocide was recognized. Yet looting remains one of the most lucrative international criminal activities today. In addition, the restitution of previously confiscated works is a very thorny issue. As you know, there is widespread debate about whether cultural objects housed in art museums, but not acquired in a manner deemed “ethical” today, should be returned. Directly connected is a reassessment of the place of the universal art museum in our contemporary world. Concurrently, training for art historians in provenance research to trace the history of ownership of objects has become important.

In this seminar, clusters of readings, organized thematically, will spark conversation. Students will lead some of these discussions. In addition, students will each select a research project to pursue, which will culminate in an annotated bibliography, an oral presentation and a formal essay.

Instructor: C. Hoeniger

This variable-topic course addresses specific themes within the history of Northern Baroque art. This term, we address an issue that has become increasingly urgent as scholars come to terms with the complex legacy of early modern colonialism. Is there still a place for the study and appreciation of "old masters" (a contested term in itself) such as Rembrandt, Rubens, or Vermeer? How can we make a case for the continuing significance of these artists and their achievements while also acknowledging the human costs of the social economy in which they worked? What new perspectives can best ensure the future vitality of this field? We will address these questions through reading, research, and discussion, with case studies to be determined according to the interests of participants. Attention will be given to strengthening basic skills of visual and critical analysis, persuasive writing and speaking, and targeted research.

This class is open to MA and PhD students. Reading knowledge of languages other than English will be helpful but is not required. Some class meetings or research projects may include visits to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre or other locations to study works of art first-hand.

A list of optional background readings will be circulated by December 1 (for those who would like to prepare in advance). A detailed list of readings and requirements will be provided after the first class meeting, pending consultation to identify specific areas of interest. The course format will include some lectures and oral presentations but will consist primarily of discussion. Students will be responsible for leading discussion of specific reading assignments. Attendance and active participation at all class meetings is expected and will count substantially toward the final grade. Each student will complete an individual research project on a topic to be determined in consultation with Prof. Dickey. The final project will be presented as an oral report to the class, followed by a research paper of about 8-10,000 words (20 pages).

Instructor: S. Dickey

This course explores British art in all media from c. 1200-1350 in its social, political, and literary contexts.

In many respects, British Gothic art followed a path distinct from that of France or Italy. Its most extraordinary monuments, such as Lincoln Cathedral, the west façade of Wells Cathedral and so on, were premised on a specific language of richness and opulence. As was long ago recognized, England would stand in the vanguard of much later medieval European art, from Paris to Prague. How and why was this so are some of the questions this course considers. We will take the “long-view” of British art and locate its major expressions within contexts such as the nature and status of the artist, the shifting nature of patronage, the political contexts of colonial encounter (particularly in Wales which was formally subsumed under English rule in the 1280s), new constructions of sanctity defined by major saints and their cults and cult spaces, and the changing self-conceptions of the aristocracy. In thinking about these themes, we will explore key works of art such as the De Lisle Psalter, the Douce Apocalypse, St Davids Cathedral, the sculptural program of the west façade of Wells Cathedral, the Holkham Picture Book, etc. We will also explore the literary contexts of art making, including texts such as the Roman de Reynard, The Metrical Life of St Hugh, and The Mabinogion.

Reading knowledge of French will be very useful.

Instructor: M. Reeve

What does it mean to think of art as both object and process? Partly it means reflecting on how the contributions of the “head” and the “hand.” In this course, we will consider the relationship between material things and ideas, between mind and body. Drawing on frameworks including craft theory, comparative aesthetics, and material culture, we will consider questions such as: an object might be read as a source of cultural and historical knowledge and how artists, designers, and craftspeople draw on and materialize knowledge in objects through processes of making. Questions we will consider include: What is the relationship between theoretical knowledge and experience? What kinds of knowledge are there and how are they expressed? How does knowledge take visual, kinetic, or material form?

In addressing these and related questions, the course takes a wide comparative approach, defining art broadly and looking at case studies from across time and in global perspective, including: early modern artisanal epistemology, colonial images of craft process and the body at work, and debates about machine vs hand production. Topics to be considered include: skill and process, knowledge transmission, dispossession of knowledge under colonialism, habitus and the body as cultural expression, and technical images. Finally, we will also reflect on the craft of the historian and writing about art and craft.

The course will employ with both practical and theoretical modes; in addition to readings in theory and history, students will engage with experiences of making as a mode of inquiry.

Instructor: A Behan

Fall, winter, or summer. Various instructors.

This course is intended to provide graduate students an opportunity to undertake a directed research project in an art gallery, museum, or archive. The research will focus on some aspect of the chosen institution's collection and will be supervised by a specialist in that area who works at the institution or co-supervised by such a specialist and a faculty member. Fall, winter, or summer.

Individual directed reading course under the guidance of a faculty member in an area of the instructor's expertise. Fall or Winter. Offered by permission of instructor only. Students interested in pursuing a Directed Reading should contact the faculty member they would like to work with to discuss a possible topic and work plan.

Art Conservation Courses

Courses are open to Art History graduate students with permission of the instructor.

Instructor: Fiona Graham. Fall Term 2020.

Instructor: Emy Kim. Fall Term 2020.

Instructor: Emy Kim. Winter Term 2021.

Instructor: Patrician Smithen. Fall Term 2020.

Instructor: Patricia Smithen. Winter Term 2021.

Instructor: Rosaleen Hill. Fall Term 2020.

Instructor: Rosaleen Hill. Winter Term 2021. Prerequisite: ARTC 831.